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Surge in Religious Extremism: Balochistan civilians likely to be targeted by Pakistani Forces, says Activist

Pakistani security personnel was practically laying siege to the house of a political worker in the Turbat area for four days

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People of Balochistan. Image source: Flickr

New Delhi, September 10, 2016: Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province by area which has experienced insurgency by Baloch separatists, targeted killings, and disappearance of Baloch people by security forces for more than a decade now, along with the sectarian violence against minority Hazara Shia Muslims by fundamentalists.

The ongoing government action against the insurgency and terrorist organizations has resulted in a surge in religious extremism in the region. Hindus, Shias (including Hazaras) and Zikris have been targeted, causing massive migration from Balochistan, mentioned ANI report.

Pakistani forces have launched a fresh wave of military operations across the restive Balochistan province. An activist for a prominent Baloch political outfit has said even civilians have been attacked and abducted in the ongoing operations and has called on the international community to take steps to stop Islamabad’s human rights abuses in Balochistan, quoted the ANI report.

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“In many parts of the Nasirabad district (of the Balochistan province), Pak forces have carried out attacks. Baloch civilians have been harassed and many have been abducted,” said Abdul Nawaz Bugti, Baloch Republican Party’s representative at the United Nations human rights council.

“In different parts of Dera Bugti, Baloch civil populace have been attacked and more than 19 Baloch civilians, including women and children, all belonging to the same family have been abducted,” Bugti told news agency ANI in a video message.

Bugti added that Pakistani security personnel was practically laying siege to the house of a political worker in the Turbat area for four days. “His family, mostly women, and children, is starving and Pakistani forces have denied access to them,” Bugti said to ANI.

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He had earlier tweeted that Pakistani forces use such tactics to compel Baloch political activists who have gone underground to resurface. They are then abducted, tortured or killed, he alleged.

“It is the time that international media raises their voices and helps save Baloch from the inhuman atrocities committed by Pakistani forces on a daily basis in Balochistan,” he added.

Abdul Nawaz Bugti’s twitter timeline is filled with tweets that are updates of the actions of Pakistani security personnel in Balochistan.

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When questioned by some on whether PM Modi’s mention of Balochistan has had a negative effect on Baloch people, Bugti tweeted, “It hasn’t. Pakistani atrocities have always been there. The positive thing now is that the world knows about them,” Bugti further added.

Modi’s statements have flashed Balochistan as a key regional subject and everyone is talking and researching about it. The Baloch goal was to be recognized as a separate entity instead of being looked at as a disillusioned segment of Pakistan’s domestic politics.

The army and the civilian government both seem to be on the same page. The former government of the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League have shown little interest in pursuing talks with the Baloch leadership.

– prepared by Arya Sharan of NewsGram

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ISIS Announces New India and Pakistan Provinces

The "Islamic State Pakistan Province," in communiques issued via its global propaganda mouthpiece Amaq News Agency, took credit for killing a Pakistani police officer

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ISIS, New India, Pakistan, Provinces
FILE- An Islamic State flag is captured in this photo illustration. VOA

The Islamic State group says it has established a “province” in Pakistan, days after the terrorist organization used the name “Hind Province” for an attack it claimed in the India-ruled portion of the disputed Kashmir region.

Both of the divisions formerly fell under the “Khorasan Province” or ISKP — the name the Middle East-based terrorist group uses for its regional operations launched in early 2015 from bases in the border region of Afghanistan — according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist threats.

The “Islamic State Pakistan Province,” in communiques issued via its global propaganda mouthpiece Amaq News Agency, took credit for killing a Pakistani police officer this week in Mastung, and it reported shooting at a gathering of militants linked to the outlawed Pakistani Taliban militant group in Quetta.

Both the districts are located in violence-hit Baluchistan province, which borders Afghanistan and Iran. Several separatist Baluch groups and sectarian organizations also are active in the province.

ISIS, New India, Pakistan, Provinces
FILE – Rescue workers and army soldiers gather at the site of a blast at a vegetable market in Quetta, Pakistan, April 12, 2019. VOA

There was no immediate reaction available from the Pakistani government.

Islamabad maintains there is no “organized” presence of IS in the country. Pakistani military officials say an ongoing nationwide military-led “intelligence-based operation” is primarily aimed at denying space in Pakistan to extremists linked to any terrorist groups.

The group released no details about the boundaries of the territory it is now claiming. In previous Islamic State propaganda, all of Afghanistan and most of Pakistan, parts of modern Iran and Central Asia make up the so-called Khorasan Province. IS also has spoken about creating its own chapter for the Indian subcontinent.

Marketplace expolsion

IS also took responsibility for last month’s suicide blast in a marketplace in Quetta city that killed 20 people and left nearly 50 injured. The targets of the attack were members of the ethnic Hazara Shiite Muslim community.

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On Friday, IS declared in a statement via Amaq the creation of “Hind Province,” while taking responsibility for clashes with Indian forces in Amshipora in the Shopian district of Kashmir.

IS has increased attacks lately in the region, including taking credit for the group’s Easter Sunday first-ever bombings in Sri Lanka that killed more than 250 people.

Observers say altering its provincial structure and fragmenting the “Khorasan Province” by IS could be aimed at bolstering its credentials after losing its “caliphate” in Syria and Iran, where the terrorists at one point used to control thousands of miles of territory.

“As ISIS [one of several acronyms used for IS] seeks to build and restructure foundations of insurgencies across the globe after its losses in Iraq and Syria, it is attempting to recruit also from Pakistan, a country with an existing jihadi militant population,” tweeted Rita Katz, the director of the SITE Intelligence Group.

ISIS, New India, Pakistan, Provinces
the terrorist organization used the name “Hind Province” for an attack it claimed in the India-ruled portion of the disputed Kashmir region. Wikimedia Commons

The suspected rebranding of ISKP comes as the United Nations earlier this week designated the “Khorasan Province” as a global terrorist, noting the group was formed in January 2015 by former members of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who pledged allegiance to Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, leader of the ISIS/ISIL.

The United States has already blacklisted ISKP as a foreign terrorist organization, and American troops are conducting regular airstrikes against the group’s bases in Afghanistan with the help of local forces, killing thousands of militants.

Analysts say American counterterrorism airstrikes and clashes with the Afghan Taliban have prevented ISKP from expanding its regional influence and the rebranding strategy could have stemmed from those challenges.

“Khorasan chapter has been struggling to establish a footprint in Afghanistan and the region in general, and they may be following al-Qaida’s strategy to create regional affiliates,” says Muhammad Amir Rana, who heads Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute for Peace and Studies (PIPS). (VOA)